RBS gives six-month grace period for arrears

The Royal Bank of Scotland has given home owners in arrears a six-month grace period before it seeks repossession.

The government-backed lender has pledged not to start repossession proceedings for a full six months after home owners first fall into arrears.

This policy will remain until at least the end of 2009.

RBS has also pledged to provide the time and opportunity for borrowers to get advice from independent organisations like the Consumer Credit Counselling Service or Citizens Advice Bureau before beginning repossession action.

Craig Donaldson, managing director of retail banking at RBS, says: “We hope that our commitment will reassure customers that we are committed to providing them with enough time, professional support and the assistance they need to resolve their financial difficulties.

“Our policy has always been to encourage those customers facing financial difficulty to talk to us so that we can work together, understand their individual circumstances and jointly resolve their financial problems.

“The repossession route is always a last resort where all other reasonable attempts to resolve the position have failed and one that we look to avoid where at all possible.”

The decision follows the government taking a 58% stake in the lender as part of its banking bailout.

The lender also promised last week to guarantee overdraft rates for its small business customers for at least one year.